The Dating of Holy Week

The Dating of the Events of the First Holy Week:

The Relationship between the Hebrew Calendar and the Julian Calendar

While the dating of the events of first Holy Week is not universally agreed to by every ancient scholar, secular & Christian, the over whelming bulk of those scholars do agree that the facts and the interpretations used understand that evidence put the year of Holy week as either A.D. 30 or A.D. 33. However the evidence (both scriptural and secular) more clearly supports A.D. 33 as the year that the promised Messiah, Jesus the Christ was crucified.

The Gospel of Luke Says of the Beginning of John the Baptist’s Ministry:

Bust of Tiberius Caesar

Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar [A.D. 28 to A.D. 29], Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod [Antipas] being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas [high priest from A.D. 18 to A.D. 36], the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.”

Tiberius’ co-reign (with his father Augustus Caesar) began in A.D. 12, and his sole reign as emperor began in A.D. 14, therefor John the Baptist’s Ministry began sometime in the late fall of A.D. 28 or more likely in early in A.D. 29.

The Gospel of John tells us of three different Jewish Passover Festivals which occurred during Jesus’s ministry, so His Ministry continued for at least 3 years.

Illustration of the first Passover

First Passover of Jesus’ Ministry (Friday, April 7th, A.D. 30):And the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.” (John 2:13) During this visit Jesus ran the money lenders out of the temple, and he told the Rabbis: “Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple [the temple of Jesus’ body], and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?” (John 2:19-20). Josephus (Ant 15.11.1) states that the temple’s reconstruction was started by Herod in the 18th year of his reign. Herod’s reign began in 37 B.C., so Herod’s rebuilding of the temple started in 19 B.C. Also remember that in the AD/BC dating system there is no zeroth year, and that “part years are always rounded up (and counted as whole years). That puts the date Jesus’ first Passover visit to Jerusalem at A.D. 29 or 30.

Second Passover of Jesus’ Ministry:

Immediately before the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5,000 with “five barley loaves, and two small fishes” John’s gospel states: “and the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.” (John 6:4)

Third Passover of Jesus’ Ministry:

All four gospel’s agree that Jesus’s execution (crucifixion) occurred in conjunction with the annual Jewish Festival of the Passover (Matthew 26:2, Mark 14:1, Luke 22:1 & John 11:55 & 18:39).

The Passover Festival prior to Which Jesus was crucified started at Sundown on a Friday, which initiated the Hebrew sabbath:

The Hebrew calendar at the time of Christ was a lunisolar calendar. The first day of a new month was the day when the first sliver of a new crescent month became visible. The Hebrew year had 12 lunar months, starting with the month of Nisan (which was 30 days long). The Hebrew week was 7 days long (as the creation of the world recounted in Genesis took seven days, or in Hebrew “periods”).

The crucifixion of Christ happened on a Friday. “Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment [of the Roman Pilate]: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the Passover.

The Hebrew festival of Passover traditional begins on the evening before the full moon in the month of Nisan, that would be the evening of the 14th of Nisan/the day of the 15th of Nisan. Between A.D. 29 and A.D. 36, two years had the 14th of Nisan fall on a Friday, and the 15th of Nisan (Passover) fall on a Sabbath (Saturday). Those were A.D. 30 and A.D. 33. If Jesus’ duration ministry was at least 3 years, then the only year that the Crucifixion could have occurred on was A.D. 33 !

Dating of the Lunar Eclipse (the Red Moon) which Occurred on the day of Jesus’s Crucifixion:

Red Moon of a partial lunar eclipse.

The prophet Joel prophesized The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.” (Joel 2:31) and Saint Peter quoted Joel’s prophesy as having happened at the crucifixion of God’s messiah, Jesus the Christ to the people in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:20).

Previous (and future) lunar eclipses can be calculated using routine modern astronomical methods. Isaac Newton was the first person to use this technique to look for a lunar eclipse (he published his result in 1733), which was visible from Jerusalem, and which occurred on the Friday before Passover during Pontius Pilate’s reign. Such an eclipse occurred, at moon rise (immediately after sunset) on Friday April 3rd, A.D. 33 (this is the date on the Julian calendar which was in use throughout the Roman empire since 45 B.C. and which remains the routine astronomical calendar to this day).